Richard Lormand's films are always a key to the best films at the festivals of Berlin, Venice and Cannes. If he reps them, you want to see them. And here they are:
Boris Khlebnikov's A Long And Happy Life: (ISA:Films Boutique) It takes conviction to decide to make a movie like this one, and that conviction permeates throughout, highlighting a strong, convincing performance by leading actor Alexander Yatsenko. Good script and skillful filmmaking also make this powerful tale of the little guy fighting the system all the more watchable. The idyllic beauty of the seaside village location and its surroundings becomes even more intriguing thanks to cinematographer Pavel Kostomarov (a Berlinale winner for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for his work in HOW I ENDED THIS SUMMER).
Thomas Arslan's Gold: (ISA:The Match Factory) I'll be as guilty as anyone else who simply refers to this great movie as "the German western". Yet it's so much more in terms of every single aspect of filmmaking - script, direction, acting, cinematography, art direction, etc. (from the same production team as Christian Petzold's BARBARA)... Yes, as an American, I get a real kick out of this adventurous western journey being mostly in German (authentically as it's about a group of Germans). But that alone would never have been enough to keep me glued to the screen in anticipation... And if you aren't a Nina Hoss fan yet, this one will convert you. To carry a film like this, it takes more than being one of the most accomplished actresses around - it takes a star.
Felix Van Groeningen's The Broken Circle Breakdown: (ISA:The Match Factory) The country and western motif continues with this Flemish gem and its sidebar nod to bluegrass music. Yes, bluegrass, and it rocks, especially when sung by leading actors Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens. Their performances are nothing less than incredible, and this is, without a doubt, one of the most heartbreaking films I've seen in a long time. Just thinking about it can bring a lump to my throat. The saddest feel-good movie I've ever seen. Felix van Groeningen is definitely a director to watch out for.
The Broken Circle Breakdown
Sebastien Lifshitz's Bambi: (ISA:Doc & Film International) Only months since he debuted the groundbreaking doc LES INVISIBLES in Cannes, Sebastien Liftshitz offers us the inspirational BAMBI, an affectionate portrait of French transsexual Marie-Pierre Pruvot. Sebastien has a probing eye of rare sensitivity which he has used in all of his films, such as the Teddy Award-winning fiction feature WILD SIDE. I was deeply moved by what Bambi's story represents today, and this is due just as much to sharp directorial skill as to the fascinating human subject.
Jacques Doillon's Love Battles (Mes Seances De Lutte): (ISA:Doc&Film International) This film can literally boast kick-ass performances by leading couple Sara Forestier and James Thierree. You gotta see it to believe it. I didn't see this one coming and I still can't quite figure out where it came from. Intense, moving, captivating... Jacques Doillon remains on the up, already sharing this new feature since recently premiering YOU ME AND US (UN ENFANT DE TOI) at November's Rome Film Festival. He proves once again that he is a master at dissecting the dramatic intricacies of the couple.
Love Battles (Mes Seances De Lutte)
Danis Tanovic's An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker: (ISA:The Match Factory) There's so much injustice around and I love it when a director makes it his or her passion to say something about it. In this case, it's Oscar-winner Danis Tanovic, this time showing us life in a different kind of wartime - the struggles of daily life for the underprivileged and discriminated against. It takes a natural born filmmaker to pick up a Canon and start making a movie because he's mad as hell about a real event that happened in his own backyard.
An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker
David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche: (ISA: Cinetic International) Let's welcome David Gordon Green back to the Berlinale - he hasn't shown a film here since his debut GEORGE WASHINGTON. Since then, he's had an eclectic career from sensitive indies to mainstream comedies. PRINCE AVALANCHE offers the best of both of those worlds and highlights two uber-talented American actors - Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch.